The COVID pandemic was an eye opening, sobering experience. It hit home the ultimate reality: that life is precious and too short; a truly mind-altering experience. It made people aware that we needed to reevaluate our life, it made us rethink everything from love to career and everything in between. It made us reconsider if this is the rut we want to be in for another 20 years, starting with finding a job you love.
Some of your worst jobs are meant to serve as learning experiences that send you in the opposite direction. That too, is part of the process. You even find yourself contemplating, “Is this all there is to my day? Am I wasting my talent? Is it possible to find a job that offers meaning and a sense of purpose? Is there something that inspires me to wake up, get out of bed in the morning, feeling motivated and inspired about the upcoming day?”
If this is you, I’d like to introduce you to the concept of ‘Ikigai’ – a Japanese term that loosely means, ‘a reason to be.’ The process starts with a little bit of soul searching and reflection. It actually is easier than it sounds. All you need to think about is what would bring you satisfaction, meaning, and happiness at work. If you are in that position today where you know what you want and are ready to get started, here are three tips to help you attract opportunities and push for that perfect fit.
3 Steps To Finding A Job You Love
1. Start With A Job You Like
When you can’t get along with your boss or desperately need to take home a bigger paycheck, it can be hard to make loving your job your only priority in your search. There is always a give and take that needs to be considered when looking for a new job to improve your financial or mental health.
That doesn’t mean that you should ignore the work culture or take a job that you don’t want to do. But it does mean that you have to be flexible on certain parameters because ending the pain of your current job and switching to a better environment can make you take rash decisions which can ultimately leave you feeling unfulfilled.
The best time to find a job that you love is while you’re at a job that you actually like. That’s when you will have the patience and the confidence to push to find a job that will give you the highest level of satisfaction. Until then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making incremental improvements with each job move. However, make sure that you aren’t simply settling for a job that is okay when it’s your time to reach for greater fulfilment. Finding a job that you love might take time, but don’t give up.
2. Narrow Your Brand
Even if you have built a well-defined career, it’s never too late to narrow down and actually attract the kind of prospects that you would love to have. For example, if you brand yourself as a ‘leader’, ‘innovative thinker’, ‘problem solver’ and a ‘strategist’, you won’t leave a memorable impression on people because almost all professionals claim to possess these generic skills and attributes.
Work towards something that instead focuses on who you are and what you love to do, and be specific. By narrowing down to a more niche brand, you automatically make it clear to people in your network that this is what I love doing and when to reach out to you with fresh ideas and opportunities. This will make you more likely to attract a job you love, instead of another job you happen to just be qualified for.
Ask yourself a simple question when trying to narrow your brand – “Who do you want to help and how do you want to help them?”
Start positioning yourself as an expert in what will most likely be a less crowded field. An easy place to start is to align your social media image and your social conversations with the work you love doing.
3. Negotiate Well
If you have put our first 2 steps to good use, you are already in a position of control when navigating the journey to your new job. Since you aren’t desperate to take anything that comes your way, the company that you will land up at eventually likely sought you out because of your unique expertise.
Use this opportunity to negotiate the terms of your job through the interview and hiring process, and not just towards the end. Keep in mind that while a company may have business needs to fulfil, there is always flexibility on how exactly the vacant roles are filled. There is more wiggle room to reshape a role or add additional responsibilities for the right candidate.
During your initial discussions with a hiring manager, understand the business problem they are trying to address and any cultural norms you may need to address.
If all this sounds too complicated for you to wrap your head around, let us dumb it down. Draw a Venn diagram on a piece of paper with three concentric circles. Label these as the following: ‘things that I like to do,’ ‘things that I am good at,’ and add a dash of reality by including ‘I can earn a living out of this.’
Remember, we aren’t static in our desires. The economy and the job market tend to evolve swiftly, and with that you may have to too. At any given point in time, you may lose your drive and passion or the job of your dreams may just fall apart. In that case, adjust your ikigai. Use your time wisely, discover your ever changing ikigai, and live your best life with the job you love.